Ellen Warden, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
WorkPlace Synergy, LLC
Consistently weak performers drain your time, poison company culture, and demotivate strong players. Don’t neglect top talent. They need—and deserve—just as much time and attention as employees not performing to expectations.
Naturally, you hope each employee has what it takes to be a strong performer and a meaningful member of your team. You probably hand-picked many of them.
Leaders do owe every employee the opportunity to succeed. If an employee is underperforming, you want to invest resources into helping that person develop. But sometimes, that investment can eat a disproportionate amount of your valuable time and energy. That’s why it’s best to invest it in people who prove worth it.
Your key is to address the issue immediately. Provide appropriate feedback, training, and coaching. If you’ve taken all these steps and there are still performance issues, it may be time to ask if the person is right for the role. If not, allow them to move on. In their book First, Break All The Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently, Marcus Buckingham & Curt Coffman remind us: “People don’t change that much. Don’t waste time trying to put in what was left out.”
When you spend all your time focusing on weak performers, strong performers begin to wonder why you’re not paying attention to them. They’ll stop working as hard and think, “What’s the point? My boss doesn’t recognize me for working hard anyway, so why bother?” Top talent thrives on being challenged. If they are bored or feel under-appreciated, they mentally unplug from their work and start looking for careers elsewhere.
Investing in your top performers is investing in your company’s future. They will perform even better. They are likely your future leaders. Their effectiveness and passion will be infectious.
What does investing in your top performers look like?
- 1-on-1’s – Use regular feedback to ask them what they need and encourage them in their performance. Ask what they like to do and what is a de-motivator? Don’t wait around for an annual review. Keep them inspired.
- Recognition and praise – Tell them what specific behaviors and accomplishments helped achieve the company’s goals. What makes them a valuable team member and shows leadership potential?
- Development opportunities –Challenge them to find new ways to grow and learn, sharpen their abilities, expand their skill sets, and take on new responsibilities. What new skills and experiences will help them in their current role and beyond?
- Practice career pathing – Create a plan for both lateral and vertical growth. Help them develop and follow a road map to where they want to be in the company. You boost employee engagement and improve succession planning.
- Involvement – Keep them in the loop. Offer them a say in the company’s decision-making process. Letting them voice their opinions fosters satisfaction and can lead to new and innovative approaches to old problems.
Are you spending too much time on poor performers while risking the loss of top talent? Retaining top-performing talent is vital to your company’s success. It pays to invest in employees who provide value, not drain it.
Do you need help designing development plans for employees? Ellen Warden works with BV/LS practices around the country to help them align their HR solutions with long-term objectives. You can reach Ellen at WorkPlace Synergy.